Waleed Aly

GQ (Australia) - - NEWS - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY SAM BISSO STYLING KELLY HUME WORDS RICHARD CLUNE

“It’s not as sim­ple as it be­ing about race, it’s about some­thing else. It’s about the fact that Aus­tralia is gen­er­ally a very tol­er­ant so­ci­ety un­til its mi­nori­ties demon­strate that they don’t know their place… The minute an In­dige­nous man stands up and is some­thing other than com­pli­ant, the back­lash is huge and it is them who are cre­at­ing divi­sion and de­stroy­ing our cul­ture. And that is ul­ti­mately what we boo. We boo our dis­com­fort.” As ever, Waleed Aly’s words were pointed and poignant. As ever, they ig­nited fur­ther de­bate while high­light­ing per­sonal po­si­tion­ing. And, in dis­sect­ing the dis­heart­en­ing boos that shad­owed AFL cham­pion Adam Goodes’ fnal sea­son – such sen­ti­ment was rightly cheered. Opin­ion grafted to in­tel­li­gence – it’s what the 37-year-old is about, be it as colum­nist, broad­caster, author. Note he’s an over­achiever whose busi­ness card could also read aca­demic, ter­ror­ism stud­ies lec­turer, lawyer or engi­neer. He’s also a fa­ther of two and a de­vout Mus­lim who prays to Al­lah and the Rich­mond foot­ball gods in equal mea­sure. While Aly may shy from be­ing la­belled a ‘jour­nal­ist’, his re­mains a view­point of in­ter­est and one that’s this year been heard more loudly than ever, thanks to a move in Jan­uary to co-host Ten’s nightly cur­rent af­fairs pro­gram, The Project. ABC’S es­tab­lished guard wailed at the de­fec­tion – the former Ra­dio Na­tional Drive host abort­ing (their thoughts) the lu­mi­nos­ity to slum it in the com­mer­cial sphere. But Aly’s not a wanker. And he’s never claimed su­pe­ri­or­ity based on a specifc plat­form. Nev­er­the­less, this sup­posed step down the me­dia lad­der fails to ac­knowl­edge con­tin­ued work on Sun­day morn­ing’s best TV panel show ( Out­siders) and on­go­ing work with ABC ra­dio’s The Mine­field. If any­thing, Aly’s move to prime time has proved that com­mer­cial cur­rent af­fairs can, be­yond mo­ments of en­ter­tain­ment, de­liver a strong sense of the cere­bral. Think of it as a thumb on the nose to the foot-in-the-door types found else­where. And au­di­ences have been lis­ten­ing and en­gag­ing. Lit­tle won­der some of his ef­forts on The Project have prompted head­lines. Cue his acute smack down of Steve Price in a con­ver­sa­tion on pro­posed min­ing leg­is­la­tion. Cue Aly’s tak­ing to task of fel­low Mus­lim Zaky Mal­lah (at­ten­tion Q&A) and a di­rect de­mand that then PM, Tony Ab­bott, an­swer ques­tions about the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment’s role in pay­ing In­done­sian peo­ple-smug­glers to turn back their own boats. What Aly does, ul­ti­mately, is chal­lenge. Chal­lenge those sat along­side in the stu­dio. Chal­lenge the thoughts of the masses he now speaks to. Chal­lenge what’s gone be­fore when it comes to vo­cal me­dia sorts un­afraid to dish an opin­ion. Cheer, cheer. n Char­coal wool jacket, $1795, ma­roon/white cot­ton ‘Ben­gal Stripe’ shirt, $279, and grey/navy wool/silk tie, $180, all by Canali at David Jones; baby blue silk pocket square, $29, by Jack Lon­don at David Jones.

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